Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers investigate fishy sense of smell with hammerhead shark model

Date:
May 6, 2010
Source:
University of Bath
Summary:
As every Jaws fan knows, sharks can smell a drop of blood from up to a kilometer away, but how are their noses so sensitive? Researchers in the UK are using the latest technology to find out how these fish are able to sniff out their prey. The scientists are testing a scale model of a hammerhead shark in a flow tank to see how the water flows around the nasal cavity of its strange flattened head.

Jonathan Cox (right) and student Jonathan White (left) lower the model into the flow tank.
Credit: Nic Delves-Broughton

As every Jaws fan knows, sharks can smell a drop of blood from up to a kilometre away, but how are their noses so sensitive?

Research led by the University of Bath is using the latest technology to find out how these fish are able to sniff out their prey.

Dr Jonathan Cox from the University's Department of Chemistry has been working with researchers from the University of Cambridge and the Natural History Museum in London, testing a scale model of a hammerhead shark in a flow tank to see how the water flows around the nasal cavity of its strange flattened head.

The researchers did a CT scan of a shark's head from the Natural History Museum's collection. The scan was used to make an accurate model of the head and nasal cavity with a 3D printer. The model featured recently on BBC2's Museum of Life series about the Natural History Museum.

This is the first time a detailed model of a hammerhead shark's head has been made to study the creature's amazing sense of smell. The research is published this month in the scientific journal Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology.

Dr Jonathan Cox said: "Whereas humans use their lungs like a bellows to inhale air through their noses to smell, the hammerhead shark smells as it swims forwards, propelling water through its nose.

"The nasal cavity of the hammerhead is like a labyrinth of pipes, with a central U-shaped channel and lots of smaller channels leading off it. The smaller channels contain the olfactory receptors, and so we're looking at how the water flows through these channels as the shark swims forwards.

"Sharks sweep their heads from side to side when they swim, so to simulate this we change the angle of the head model in the tank and observe the flow at each angle."

Dr Timothy Nickels, Reader in Experimental Fluid Mechanics at the University of Cambridge said: "We are really excited to be involved in this project -- it's a perfect example of the strength of interdisciplinary research, with Jonathan providing the in-depth knowledge of shark olfaction whilst we contribute in measuring and understanding the fluid mechanics side of the processes.

"It turns out that our skills and facilities are ideal for this work although, until Jonathan came along, we had no idea about this area of research. We're looking forward to developing this collaboration further in the future."

Dr Richard Abel, from London's Natural History Museum, added: "This exciting study manages to combine cutting edge 3D imaging of 50-year-old museum specimens, with wild observations of living sharks and experimental flow research to determine how hammerhead nostrils function. The findings will aid the design of green bio-mimetic technology."

The scientists hope their research could be used in the future to design chemical sensors for underwater exploration, medicine and counter-terrorism.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Bath. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Richard L. Abel, James S. Maclaine, Ross Cotton, Viet Bui Xuan, Timothy B. Nickels, Thomas H. Clark, Zhijin Wang, Jonathan P.L. Cox. Functional morphology of the nasal region of a hammerhead shark. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology - Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology, 2010; 155 (4): 464 DOI: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2009.10.029

Cite This Page:

University of Bath. "Researchers investigate fishy sense of smell with hammerhead shark model." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100505092521.htm>.
University of Bath. (2010, May 6). Researchers investigate fishy sense of smell with hammerhead shark model. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100505092521.htm
University of Bath. "Researchers investigate fishy sense of smell with hammerhead shark model." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100505092521.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins